Police Violence from Ferguson to Rio

Transcribed from the 13 December 2014 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“The police will argue that they have to be heavy-handed with criminals because they’re under attack, because it’s a ‘war.’ But they won’t admit that they’re creating a climate of terror.”

Chuck Mertz: We’re speaking with our irregular correspondent in Rio de Janeiro, Brian Mier. He is social media director for the Brazilian National Urban Reform Forum and a freelance writer and producer. Yesterday he posted the article The Police and the Massacre of Afro-Brazilian Youth.

Good morning, Brian.

Brian Mier: Hey, how’s it going?

CM: Very well, sir. You write about a new Brazilian documentary called Point Blank. It tells the story of the past twenty years of massacres committed by the Rio de Janeiro military police. These chacinas are frequently committed in retribution for a killed police officer, and traditionally involve coming into a poor neighborhood and killing random Afro-Brazilian youth.

Can you explain the hierarchy of the police forces in Brazil?

BM: If you think it’s bad in Chicago, imagine having multiple police forces operating in every city. First there is the traditional civil police in Brazil that investigates robberies and homicides and things like that. Then there’s military police, which has been around for a very long time, but they were given extra powers during the military dictatorship. And when the dictatorship ended, nobody removed their special powers.

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The Racism/Austerity Feedback Loop

Transcribed from the 24 January 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“Roma are among the poorest citizens in Bulgaria. But somehow, paradoxically, they are considered the most privileged, because of their supposed “privileged” access to welfare.”

Chuck Mertz: We’ve been discussing neoliberalism, austerity and race on This is Hell! for a while now. But what happens when austerity actually fuels more racism? Here to tell us what austerity means for racism against Bulgaria’s Roma: Jana Tsoneva.

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Riots gegen den Rassismus des 21. Jahrhunderts

Aus aktuellem Anlass stellen wir hier die Übersetzung der Broschüre: “Ferguson: Mike Brown & die Riots gegen den Rassismus des 21. Jahrhunderts” ein. Sie stammt aus dem autonomen Blättchen Nr. 19 und behandelt Hintergründe und den Ablauf der Proteste und Aufstände im August diesen Jahres.

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Rassistische Spannungen in Missouri

Die rassistischen Spannung und Trennung sind konstant in der Geschichte Missouris. 1820 wurde der Missouri-Kompromiss verabschiedet, der Missouri als Sklavenstaat anerkannte, um das „Gleichgewicht der Macht“ zwischen Sklaven- und freien Staaten im Kongress zu bewahren. St. Louis war eines der Haupt-Auktions-Zentren, wo Geschäftsleute und Einzelpersonen Sklaven kaufen und leihen konnten. Im frühen 20. Jahrhundert stieg, aufgrund seines Industriezentrums und dem Reiz von Fabrikjobs die Afrikanisch-Amerikanische Immigration nach St. Louis an. Es kam zu Ressentiments und Spannungen von Weißen gegen die schwarzen Migrant_innen. Schließlich kochten die Spannungen im Sommer 1917 über, als weiße Mobs begannen, Feuer in den Häusern der schwarzen Siedlungen zu legen.Continue Reading

The Nadir of Race Relations in America

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Transcribed from the 23 August 2014 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“Kenilworth was founded in 1889 by Joseph Sears, and he had four great principles that he put in its founding documents: no alleys; no fences; large, architect-designed houses; and no Jews or Negroes. The first three expired after twenty years, but the fourth one never expired.”

Chuck Mertz: Sociologist James W. Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. He wrote the 2005 book Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, and his second edition of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your History Textbook Got Wrong was just published.

Good morning, Jim.

James Loewen: Hi! Glad to be with you.

CM: It’s great to have you on the show.

Oddly enough, I just found out our correspondent in Rio de Janeiro used to visit Ferguson when he was a kid, because his grandmother lived there. I asked him if he was surprised that this happened in Ferguson, and he said he was, because when he was a kid, thirty years ago, it was an all-white town. But he found out from a relative that at one point they put a wall right through Ferguson, separating the black side from the white side, and saying that after sundown blacks weren’t safe.

You weren’t certain if Ferguson was actually a sundown town. Why don’t you tell people what a sundown town is, and why that’s important.

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Ferguson is Not Unique

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 5 September 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“It’s not so much a question of whether the media should be there or not. The media should just do a good job. We should be respectful of residents’ privacy and dignity and should practice basic research before writing something up.”

Chuck Mertz: One of the most recent additions to our team of irregular correspondents is Sarah Kendzior. We’re proud to have gotten her as a correspondent. Sarah, good morning!

Sarah Kendzior: Good morning, how are you?

CM: Good! Sarah Kendzior is a St. Louis-based columnist for Al Jazeera English and the Chronicle of Higher Education, but her writing is popping up everywhere, including her most recent work at Politico.com: After Ferguson, St. Louis’s Decaying Black Suburbs Are About to Be Forgotten. Again.

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Zombie Prisons

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Transcribed from the 2 August 2014 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We’re going to see the rise of a mass detention and deportation system [for immigrants] that will very much rival mass incarceration, and could actually grow as mass incarceration shrinks.”

Chuck Mertz: Live from Berkeley, Jonathan Simon is author of Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America. Good morning, Jonathan.

Jonathan Simon: Morning, Chuck.

CM: You write, “Like a biblical flood, the age of mass incarceration is finally ebbing. After forty years, not forty days, a once-unstoppable tide of harsh sentencing laws, aggressive prosecution policies, and diminished opportunities for parole seems to be subsiding.”

Forty years is two whole generations of human beings. What do you think the cultural legacy of that mass incarceration is, or will be?

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Counterinsurgency in America

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Transcribed from This is Hell! Radio’s 6 September 2014 episode and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:

 

“We face a state that treats black people as if we are about to rise up in an insurgency at any moment. They preemptively police us as if we are an insurgency.”

Chuck Mertz: Live with us right now, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford. Good morning, Glen.

Glen Ford: Good morning. Good to be here.

CM: Isn’t it great, this post-racial America? It looks great in Ferguson, Missouri!

GF: Oh, I’m just aglow. I’m bathed in it. Aren’t we all?

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